The shuttle Atlantis began the slow roll to Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center late Tuesday, while the six Endeavour astronauts prepared to make their way back to Earth.
Atlantis nears the half way point in her measured 3.5 mile trek to Kennedy's Launch Pad 39A.
Photo Credit/ NASA TV
Atlantis, chosen last year for STS-135, the final shuttle program mission, emerged from the Vehicle Assembly Building on Tuesday at 8:42 p.m. EDT., nearly an hour late because of a temporary problem with the massive crawler-transporter.
Meanwhile, Endeavour was expected to touchdown under partly cloudy skies on Wednesday at 2:35 a.m., EDT, an hour before Atlantis reaches the launch pad.
The two events drew Kennedy workers and news media eager to witness the roll out of Atlantis for the milestone 12-day, STS-135 supply mission to the International Space Station and the conclusion of Endeavour’s 25th and final voyage.
Among those present were the Atlantis astronauts, Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley and Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim. Their mission is tentatively scheduled to lift off on July 8.
During a 16-day voyage, Endeavour outfitted the space station with the $2 billion Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, dropped off spare parts for the thermal control, communications and robotics systems. With four spacewalks, the shuttle crew upgraded the station’s Russian segment with backup power cables and an anchor for the robot arm.